Month: May 2009

Over the Rainbow

I have had the craziest week.  Between moving, getting ready for Hawaii, working hard and getting ready for a recital today, my life felt pretty overwhelming.  Today I am pleased to write this blog as a fully moved-in person.  I love my new apartment and feel at home here.  All this unpacking included spending an entire day putting together an IKEA bookcase with doors (it was my nemesis! So hard!) has left me exhausted and ready for vacation.

After a long week I finished it today by performing in my voice lesson recital.  It was my most intimidating recital because I sand Over the Rainbow- the famous Judy Garland version.  It may be my favorite song.  Definitely in my top 10.  Because I love it so much it made all the more nerve-wracking to sing it.  I wanted it to be perfect, which of course it will never be.  It is also a more difficult song than you’d first expect.  Every time you sing “Some” “Where” you do a full octave change.  This happens time and again throughout the song.  It is also such a recognizable song that it almost has to be perfect or people will notice.  It was a big risk for me to select it, but I have improved greatly because of  it. It’s more satisfying than I can explain in words to hear myself get better week-to-week on a song I love so much.  It’s the best!

With all this preparation I stepped onto the stage at Hale Theater Orem and sang my heart out.  Without sounding too arrogant I think it was the best I have ever sung!   I came off the stage beaming and got nothing but positive feedback from my friends and teachers.  The funny thing is that I actually messed up on the words in one verse, but I didn’t let it phase me and nobody noticed. I just bought a new camera with a special video feature that is supposed to make it easier to post online.  Take a look at the video of the performance.   It was an exciting moment in my life.

Like I said, it was the best I have sung and it felt good! I hope you enjoyed it.

On another note my sister Anna had an exciting experience.  She is a die hard David Archuleta fan and when I say die hard I mean it!  She has seen him live several times, has every performance he has ever recorded, and has pictures of him in her room.  You’d think he was a member of the family!  More than just loving his music, she genuinely admires him for sticking to his values.

As a member of the David Archuleta fan club she participated in a contest to promote his album in return for various prizes.  The grand prize was a 5 minute conversation with David.  Anna went full force ahead doing a number of things including sponsoring a fundraiser for a charity David supports.  A couple of weeks ago she submitted her project and then to all of our surprise she got an email announcing her as the winner of the grand prize!  She won a conversation with her idol David Archuleta!  Naturally Anna was beside herself and could hardly sleep the days before the phone call took place.  Finally today it happened.  At 2:49 he called and they chatted for 21 minutes!  I guess they spoke about many things including music, writing songs, religion, BYU, American Idol and more.

Some may say it is a silly thing to get excited over but I disagree. I know David is just a person like anyone else.  I also am aware there are lines in fanaticism, which go overboard and can be dangerous.  However, in this case, I think it is a good thing.  I appreciate anyone who lives his or her life with passion- someone who isn’t afraid to take risks.   Anna is such a person.  Her passion isn’t limited to musicians.  She loves church, her friends, Lord of the Rings movies, Harry Potter, BYU, and more.  I’ve even seen her get excited over a cool minor chord!  It is so easy to be lukewarm and mediocre in life.  While I was going to school I saw many people satisfied with the bare minimum, with gliding by on the coat tails of others.  I still do not understand how others can be happy with such a paltry blahh life.

If Anna is going to be into David Archuleta, she should be into him all the way.   I like how Anna has set a pattern in her life of living boldly.  Most people wouldn’t have attempted the contest but Anna went for it, and she got it.  I admire that.  Later in life she will meet many obstacles that will seem impossible, but from this and other experiences she will have the courage to make the attempt- to try her hardest and hopefully the reward will come. In a weird way my singing and her phone call have something in common- they both involve passion for music, and trying our utmost to succeed.

Another thing I admire about Anna is  she has learned to accept disappointment. For instance, at her age I would have been more emotional over not getting into the music department.  Her attitude allows her to live with passion because however things turn out she can find happiness.  Sometimes there are discouraging situations and other times, like today, there are moments of excitement and glee. Congrats Anna!  You deserve it!

Looking forward to rest

I admit it today I would annoy Calvin!
I admit it today I would annoy Calvin! It's been a stressful couple of days.

I can’t write much but I wanted to update quickly on the craziness of my life the last few days.  First of all, I  moved on Saturday to my new 2 bedroom apartment.  It is much roomier and in a way feels more like a home than my last place.  I will always love that apartment because it proved I could be on my own and be happy.  This apartment feels different but I have high hopes for it as well.  As you can expect the move was stressful and exhausting.  I am so grateful to Easton Brown, Sarah Creer and other friends from church who came to my moving rescue.  It was a hot day and the move took several hours.  As I have often said I am blessed with wonderful people in my life.

With the boxes moved in the next task of unpacking came into play.  (By the way, we have also had people in all 4 houses over the last few days which is great but stressful!).  It is shocking how much stuff I have.  Truly shocking!  Thank goodness my roommate has only furniture for her bedroom and little kitchen stuff.  That was a huge blessing! She hasn’t officially moved in yet but I consulted with her before placing furniture and unpacking my kitchen stuff.  She seems very easy going, and I think we will make a good team.

I am proud to say I finished the unpacking today!  The final step was my office.  I will put up photos of my new place soon. I just love it so much!

In the midst of all this unpacking and working I also had to do my final check out of my old place today.  This morning to be more particular.  I thought I had done a pretty good job with things but the inspector sure found a big list of problems.  By the end of the check out it seems I will be responsible for $200 worth of stuff!  That’s the downside of renting.

Naturally I was in a bad mood this morning but then we added on more stress by having a crisis at work.  I won’t go into the details but one of the houses had some minor vandalism and we had someone checking into the house today!  It was creepy, annoying and exhausting all at the same time.  It ended up taking Jim and I the entire afternoon to resolve the problem.  Luckily the tenants are happy and nothing was seriously damaged or taken except some sheets that had to be replaced.  We are now already in the process of getting alarm systems on all 4 houses.

The other stressful event that happened is yesterday I made the mistake of purchasing an Ikea bookshelf with doors for the kitchen as a type of pantry. We got the bookshelf together easy enough but the stupid doors were impossible.  We literally spent the entire day.  By saying we, I mean my friend Melany Bushe and I.  I think the definition of a true friend is someone who will help you assemble Ikea furniture.  It was a lot of work and the frustrating thing is that it still isn’t perfect.  It wobbles more than it should and the doors don’t line up perfectly!  Part of the problem is they only give you those silly drawings as instructions.  There are always a million ways to go wrong- and usually I find all of them! Oh well!  It will have to do for now.  You know there is a joke about Ikea furniture- How may PHD’s do you need to assemble a piece of Ikea furniture?- 3 one PHD in Swedish, one in Engineering and one in relationship counseling.  Luckily mine and Melany’s relationship is still intact and the friendship will persist despite the trial!

Need I mention that I also have my recital for voice lessons on Friday! I am doing Somewhere Over the Rainbow which may sound like a simple song but in fact it is quite difficult.  It has an octave change with every Some-where and Rain-bow. It is definitely the hardest song I have done at a recital and is a bit of a risk.  I hope it pays off- especially with how little rehearsal time I have gotten lately with the move and all.  Wish me luck come Friday. I wish it sounded like this. 01 Over The Rainbow (Single Version)

Between everything going on I am looking forward more than ever to the tropical paradise that awaits me this Sunday.  Hawaii here I come!  I can’t think of anything more relaxing than lying in the sun with a good book listening to the waves.  I’d give up a meal a day for that pleasure! Every ounce of my sore achy emotional body is yearning for that blessed island.  Thank goodness for vacations by the ocean! I need it real bad!

I Love Nice People

Today I was grateful for happy people! (Even if they might have been a little annoyed inside)
Today I was grateful for happy people! (Even if they might have been a little annoyed inside)

So, I can’t write long but I just wanted to say how grateful I am for kind people who are understanding.  I am especially grateful both personally and professionally today.

It was a stressful day because we had three people checking into the properties, packing up my stuff, did the moving inspection, and finally moved a bunch of stuff into my new place.  It’s a long story but 2 of the houses the Benji and the Anna were rented.  The Benji does not have hot tub.  The Anna does.   Last month we decided to set up a housing swap with a family from Redondo Beach.  Since it was available I scheduled them in the Anna.  A week or so ago we got a call from a group called Signing Times (they do signing DVDs for babies learning sign to communicate early on).  Since they are paying customers I thought I should try to give them the house with the hot tub.  I called the other group and they were willing to make the swap.

So now comes today.  I was preoccupied with packing and as I headed over to sign my contract the swap group called.  Rushing I told them to go to the Anna, and Jim went ahead and checked them in.  I then signed my contract, did the inspection and moved a bunch of stuff in with the help of friends.  As I was eating dinner it hit me I had 2 groups expecting to stay at the Anna, one of them already checked in!  I panicked and called the other group.  I apologized probably 500 times and to my great relief they said “we don’t care which house we stay in”.  A few in the group were a little annoyed but as a whole they were unbelievably understanding.  I don’t know what I would have done if they had not been so great.  One of the ladies kept saying “Life happens!”.

This is a situation where I screwed up.  They would have had every right to be ticked off with me but they chose to be sympathetic.  I realize not everyone is so wonderful.   For a summer in college I worked for a hogi shop that also served teriyaki chicken.  At the beginning of the day we made all of the chicken for the entire day.  Occasionally we would run out of chicken and disappoint customers.  This one day we ran out of chicken and a lady came in wanting to order it.  Instead of ordering something else she proceeded to ream me out, calling me stupid and lazy.  The whole time I kept thinking- “What is going on in your life to make you treat me this way over chicken?”.  It was amazing.  I’ve also had moments on airplanes or in crowded places where people treated me and others like garbage.  It’s far too common.

Suffice it to say I am SO grateful the tenants I messed up today had a much better reaction.  It’s one thing to accept our friends, flaws and all, but when a stranger makes a mistake often it is easier to come unglued.  It reminds me of Jesus’ teachings when He said in Matthew 5 44-47:

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

Not that I was an enemy of these people, but I was definitely not their brethren (or sister).  They had every right to be mad at me, but they chose a higher path and for that I am very grateful.   They certainly had more right than the chicken lady and nothing stopped her from unleashing her rage.

On a personal note I also feel grateful for Sunnie Bybee and my home teacher Josh for helping me move today and for whomever comes tomorrow.  Look at the nice note my fellow churchmembers sent out in my behalf:Hey everybody!
We are looking for as many people as possible that would be willing to gain a few extra blessings by helping out Rachel Wagner tomorrow, Saturday May 16th, to move into a new apartment within Adagio. We are all meeting at 13323 S. Pinnacle Point Dr. #3207 @ 11 am! Your help would greatly be appreciated!

Isn’t that nice?  Hopefully people will come!  I am sure they will and for that I am super appreciative.  I am not meaning to toot my own horn but I sacrifice a lot of my time to serving my friends and community, and it is nice to see others willing to serve me when I need it. I certainly can’t move by myself!  So, thanks everyone in advance!  Thanks for being so nice.

Thanks also to the understanding tenants who are the best!

I will update the blog next week and try to have photos of my new place.  I will be in a mad rush to get things unpacked before Hawaii!  Oh Hawaii!  That sounds so wonderful!!! I am all sore and tired, and will be near dead tomorrow.  Ahh I can feel that sun now!

Smell of Cardboard

It may come as a surprise to many of you but I am officially moving on Saturday! I got the opportunity to upgrade to a 2 bedroom 2 bath apartment for only around $50 more a month. As much as I love my current place, I couldn’t resist the chance for more space- particularly for an office. I have been suffering from insomnia lately, and I’ve read that using your room for only sleeping helps. (Yesterday I had a dream about the Dark Knight. I so wish I hadn’t seen that movie!).

Anyway, I decided to go ahead with the move. Thanks in advance to anyone helping me. I really, really appreciate it! Even though I am Ok with my decision I will be a little sad to be leaving my place. This apartment has symbolic meaning to me. I had been through a tough year in 2007/2008 and finding my own place made me feel complete. I felt I had finished the purifying process of the particular trials I had experienced during the last 3 years.

Living by myself has  made me strong in a new way. I have always striven to direct my own life- make my own choices; however, time and again I am swayed by the feelings and opinions of others. Being alone has forced me to be independent and strong. I am grateful for that strength. At the same time I also appreciate my amazing family and friends who never let me feel alone. It has been the best! A particular thanks to Megan, Anna, my mom and dad, my uncle Jim for all his help, and my friend Camille for never being more than a phone call away. It sounds like a freaking Oscar speech, but I really am grateful!

So with that said the other big news of the move is I am going to have a roommate.  It just kind of worked out, and I think it is the right thing for this time in my life.  It happened quickly- like since Sunday. I found out my friend Sunnie Bybee needed a place to stay and after looking at the new place, I felt good about it. I figure we can try it out and see if it works. She’s a nice girl, and I think we will gel well together. I will have to downsize some of my stuff but that’s ok. There are benefits to having roommates (financially and socially) and benefits to living alone. In this case, I figured it was worth a try. Luckily she doesn’t have any furniture so that makes things easy. I will just have to cut down on my kitchen stuff and put away some of my wall art and photos 😦 . I am a little nervous because I have gotten into a few bad habits living by myself- particularly when it comes to the laundry. At least Sunnie is a patient person, so we should be fine! Hopefully she will understand the transition from living alone to sharing will have a few bumps along the way. We will see how it goes!

As with every move, I am going through my stuff and am amazed with how much I have. The only good thing about moving is it gives a good chance to de-junk. Since I move about every year I get to de-junk frequently. Last year I moved 4 times! Oh my!

I will post pictures of my new place next week. Wish me luck and anyone who is in the area I can use all the help I can get Saturday at 11am. Thanks so much!
On to a new adventure!
Huge piles of cardboard boxes

Last Chance Harvey

If any of you haven’t seen Last Chance Harvey- see it. It’s great. Wonderful. Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson (who can do no wrong in my book) are both terrific in this gentle romance. They play Harvey and Kate- two mature adults who meet each other by chance in an airport in London.  Harvey is an American who is there to see his only daughter be married.  Kate works at the airport as a customer service representative.  When they meet Harvey has just missed his flight, been fired from his disappointing job and his daughter has chosen her stepfather to give her away at the wedding.  On the other side, Kate is single and has resigned herself to a mediocre life of work and caring for her mother.  Neither characters are happy or fulfilled. When they meet they are both at lows, which actually gives them a lot in common with each other.  As they get to know one another a sweet and simple romance develops.  It reminded me of the old school romances of Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant.

I don’t want you to think it is only a date movie or a chick flick; although it is excellent in both regards. It is also an interesting movie about work, family, happiness and taking risks.  I guess Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman decided to make the movie while filming one of my all time favorite films Stranger than Fiction- also a great movie about work, happiness, and taking risks.  Perhaps Fiction is slightly better than this but I loved both.

There is a line where Emma Thompson says:

“You see, what I think is I am more comfortable with being disappointed. I think I am angry with you for trying to take that away.”

Isn’t that a powerful idea? How many of us live a shallow life because it is safe, comfortable, or easy? I am a very risk-averse person and it is hard for me to jump into the unknown. While I have little experience with romance, I can imagine one of the hardest parts is trusting your heart to another human being who might break it. The thing that the character’s realize is that each of us give our lives to something whether it be work, art, family, friends, or love. We might as well give it up for something that has the greatest potential for happiness.
Another thing the characters realize is they have allowed their life choices and their definition of happiness to be defined by others. Emma Thompson has a particular moment of clarity I appreciated while on a blind date. Her friends basically trick her into this date with a person she has nothing in common with and doesn’t enjoy. In fact, it feels like her mother and friends have turned her love life into their hobby- like a giant guessing game. It’s funny because she doesn’t say anything but just looks around and realizes this is not the life she wants. I related to this moment. Not because my friends set me up but I have had moments of clarity where I realized my life was on the wrong track- that I wasn’t living the life I was meant to live.
I don’t believe in fate, but I don’t believe in coincidences either. I feel we all have a unique purpose in life that requires us to interact with particular people. I felt this sense of connection with others on my mission. There were people I know I was supposed to help, supposed to find. While not everything has this type of purpose, almost everything can be used by the Lord to further His plan.
In Last Chance Harvey the characters discover their own unhappiness but at the same time learn how much they need each other.
I don’t know if I have done the movie justice but I just loved it. It’s interesting because I also saw Ghost of Girlfriends Past- a supposed romantic comedy that was anything but romantic. What a contrast on every level! In Ghost the acting was bad, the characters were unbelievable , and the writers had the nerve to destroy one of the best books ever written- the Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.  There is no comparison between the two.

I hope you all go out and rent Last Chance Harvey and I hope you like it as much as me. Post your reviews in the comment section of the blog. Enjoy!

More Poetry

I haven’t done a poetry blog in some time, so here goes.  I was thinking yesterday of memories and how they often leave a sad aftertaste in our mouth.  Isn’t that weird how we often remember the struggles and sorrows more vividly than the joys? I mean how many wonderful birthday parties do we all have but the one that goes wrong is the most memorable? Human nature is so strange on so many levels.  Here’s a poem that catches the paradox of memory:

The Net of Memory by Adela Florence Nicolson

I cast the Net of Memory,
Man’s torment and delight,
Over the level Sands of Youth
That lay serenely bright,
Their tranquil gold at times submerged
In the Spring Tides of Love’s Delight.

The Net brought up, in silver gleams,
Forgotten truth and fancies fair:
Like opal shells, small happy facts
Within the Net entangled were
With the red coral of his lips,
The waving seaweed of his hair.

We were so young; he was so fair.

Here is another that I like extolling the virtues of the simple life. I particularly like the line “Such sweet content, such minds, such sleep, such bliss, beggars enjoy, when princes oft do miss.”  Especially in this economy it is good to remember that happiness is not gained by more possessions but by the simple contemplations of a happy heart and mind.

Sweet are the thoughts that savor of content by Robert Greene

Sweet are the thoughts that savor of content;
The quiet mind is richer than a crown;
Sweet are the nights in careless slumber spent;
The poor estate scorns fortune’s angry frown:
Such sweet content, such minds, such sleep, such bliss,
Beggars enjoy, when princes oft do miss.

The homely house that harbors quiet rest;
The cottage that affords no pride nor care;
The mean that ‘grees with country music best;
The sweet consort of mirth and music’s fare;
Obscured life sets down a type of bliss:
A mind content both crown and kingdom is.

This is probably my favorite poem on music by my favorite poet Elizabeth Bishop.  I love music and poetry because they both capture moments so succinctly. Most of the big events of my life were accompanied by some type of music.

I am in Need of Music by Elizabeth Bishop

I am in need of music that would flow
Over my fretful, feeling fingertips,
Over my bitter-tainted, trembling lips,
With melody, deep, clear, and liquid-slow.
Oh, for the healing swaying, old and low,
Of some song sung to rest the tired dead,
A song to fall like water on my head,
And over quivering limbs, dream flushed to glow!

There is a magic made by melody:
A spell of rest, and quiet breath, and cool
Heart, that sinks through fading colors deep
To the subaqueous stillness of the sea,
And floats forever in a moon-green pool,
Held in the arms of rhythm and of sleep.

One last poem by Elizabeth Bishop.  This is more of a series of questions regarding travel- why do we feel a need to venture to distant lands? As someone who loves to travel but also loves being at home it is an interesting question.

Questions on Travel by Elizabeth Bishop

There are too many waterfalls here; the crowded streams
hurry too rapidly down to the sea,
and the pressure of so many clouds on the mountaintops
makes them spill over the sides in soft slow-motion,
turning to waterfalls under our very eyes.
–For if those streaks, those mile-long, shiny, tearstains,
aren’t waterfalls yet,
in a quick age or so, as ages go here,
they probably will be.
But if the streams and clouds keep travelling, travelling,
the mountains look like the hulls of capsized ships,
slime-hung and barnacled.

Think of the long trip home.
Should we have stayed at home and thought of here?
Where should we be today?
Is it right to be watching strangers in a play
in this strangest of theatres?
What childishness is it that while there’s a breath of life
in our bodies, we are determined to rush
to see the sun the other way around?
The tiniest green hummingbird in the world?
To stare at some inexplicable old stonework,
inexplicable and impenetrable,
at any view,
instantly seen and always, always delightful?
Oh, must we dream our dreams
and have them, too?
And have we room
for one more folded sunset, still quite warm?

But surely it would have been a pity
not to have seen the trees along this road,
really exaggerated in their beauty,
not to have seen them gesturing
like noble pantomimists, robed in pink.
–Not to have had to stop for gas and heard
the sad, two-noted, wooden tune
of disparate wooden clogs
carelessly clacking over
a grease-stained filling-station floor.
(In another country the clogs would all be tested.
Each pair there would have identical pitch.)
–A pity not to have heard
the other, less primitive music of the fat brown bird
who sings above the broken gasoline pump
in a bamboo church of Jesuit baroque:
three towers, five silver crosses.
–Yes, a pity not to have pondered,
blurr’dly and inconclusively,
on what connection can exist for centuries
between the crudest wooden footwear
and, careful and finicky,
the whittled fantasies of wooden footwear
and, careful and finicky,
the whittled fantasies of wooden cages.
–Never to have studied history in
the weak calligraphy of songbirds’ cages.
–And never to have had to listen to rain
so much like politicians’ speeches:
two hours of unrelenting oratory
and then a sudden golden silence
in which the traveller takes a notebook, writes:

“Is it lack of imagination that makes us come
to imagined places, not just stay at home?
Or could Pascal have been not entirely right
about just sitting quietly in one’s room?

Continent, city, country, society:
the choice is never wide and never free.
And here, or there . . . No. Should we have stayed at home,
wherever that may be?”

I hope you enjoyed these poems.  Do any of you have favorites? I would love to hear about them.  Post them as comments.  Have a great weekend!